Public Safety Referendum on Ballot on April 2
On Wednesday, Jan. 10, the Town Board authorized a referendum that, if approved, would allow the Town to exceed its state-imposed levy limit and increase funding for the Cedarburg Fire Department.
Resident Informational Sessions with the Cedarburg Fire Department
- March 5, 2024: 12:30 pm
- March 19, 2024: 7:00pm
- Both sessions will be held at the Ozaukee Pavilion, W67N866 Washington Avenue, Cedarburg, WI 53012
Additionally, a film viewing of "Odd Hours, No Pay, Cool Hat" and Q&A with Chief Vahsholtz will be held at the Rivoli Theater, Noon to 2:30 pm on March 9, 2024.
Additional Funding will Address Increased Demand, Improve Emergency Response Reliability
If approved by referendum, additional funds would improve emergency response reliability and enable changes recommended by the Joint City and Town of Cedarburg Fire and EMS Committee, including funding to: (*This will be a 4-year phased in approach with final hires done in 2028)
- Add 8 additional full-time Firefighter-Paramedics;
- Maintain two (2) full-time Firefighter-Paramedics currently funded using ARPA dollars, which will run out in 2024.
- Adjust the Fire Chief position to a full-time role, helping ensure CFD has consistent leadership to manage the growing public safety needs in the City and Town of Cedarburg.
Additional full-time staff will bolster the Cedarburg Fire Department and ensure that qualified professionals are available at any time of the day or night to respond to emergencies.
The inclusion of additional Firefighter-Paramedics will increase the level of service the Department will be able to provide, boosting CFD from an AEMT-level agency to a Paramedic level. This will result in an increase in the number of emergency medical skills and medications available to support patients.
Property Tax Impact
The referendum will ask voters in the City and Town of Cedarburg whether or not they support the addition of $2,015,658 to the CFD annual operating budget. Based on the Department’s funding formula, the City’s portion of this additional budget would amount to approximately $1,292,302 and the Town’s portion would be approximately $723,356.
In the Town of Cedarburg, this would result in a property tax increase of approximately $57.08 per $100,000 in assessed property value ($276.86 for a median home assessed at $485,000).
In the City of Cedarburg, this would result in a property tax increase of approximately $67.82 per $100,000 in assessed property value ($264.51 for a median home assessed at $390,000).
The referendum question will appear on the Tuesday, April 2, 2024 ballot as follows:
"Under state law, the increase in the levy of the Town of Cedarburg for the tax to be imposed for the next fiscal year, 2025, is limited to 1.153%, which results in a levy of $2,416,878. Shall the Town of Cedarburg be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next fiscal year, 2025, for the purposes to increase funding to hire and retain additional fire and emergency medical services personnel for the Cedarburg Fire Department pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Cedarburg for shared fire protection and emergency medical services, by a total of 29.929%, which results in a levy of $3,140,234, and on an ongoing basis, include the increase of $723,356 for each fiscal year going forward?"
In December, residents in the City and Town of Cedarburg received a survey designed to help municipal leaders determine the best path forward. Results indicate that 82% of respondents believe high-quality emergency medical and fire services are very important, and nearly 70% of respondents supported a property tax increase to bolster Fire Department funding.
Additional Information on Fire Department Website
More information will be shared with residents through direct mail, including in the Town newsletter, via social media and Town eNotify, and information sessions will be held in advance of the referendum on April 2, 2024. The Fire Department’s website will also be updated with additional resources: https://www.cedarburgfiredept.com/.
Citizen Survey on Potential Future Funding of Fire & EMS Services
In December, residents in the City and Town of Cedarburg received a survey designed to help municipal leaders determine the best path to addressing challenges at the Cedarburg Fire Department. Thank you to everyone who participated and voiced their recommendations. Learn more here.
View the survey results here: Survey Results
If you have questions, please contact Fire Chief Jeff Vahsholtz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where Can I Find the Options Assessment?
The Options Assessment can be found on the Cedarburg Fire Department website: https://www.cedarburgfiredept.com/
Questions can be directed to Fire Chief Jeff Vahsholtz via email here: email@example.com
Cedarburg Fire & Rescue
The Town and City of Cedarburg jointly fund a fire department to provide fire and emergency medical services to the entire Cedarburg community. The City operates the main Fire Station No. 1 located at W61N631 N Mequon Avenue. The Town maintains Fire Station No. 2 located at 1350 Covered Bridge Road. The City maintains the fire hydrant system in the City, and the Town maintains two dry hydrants (connected to a pond) and ten 30,000 gallon cisterns which provide water for fire fighting. You can view the Town map showing the locations of the cisterns here.
The Cedarburg Fire Department web page is www.cedarburgfiredept.com.
10-Year Shared Services Agreement
The Town and City approved a 10-year Fire & EMS shared services agreement taking effect January 1, 2024, and going through 2033. One focus of the agreement was the development of a staffing plan that could expand the Cedarburg Fire Department by adding full-time positions between 2023 – 2028, in addition to moving from all volunteers to a Paid-On-Call (POC) model in 2024. The proposed staffing level would transition from an Advanced EMT (AEMT) level agency to a paramedic level EMS agency. This increase in the level of service can be measured by the availability of more medications, additional skills and greater knowledge. This transition would allow the Cedarburg Fire Department to better treat a variety of injuries and illnesses, resulting in improved outcomes of those requiring EMS services, all with reduced response times due to personnel ready to respond 24/7.
The approved 10-year shared services agreement between the City and Town sets in motion steps to consider how the communities could fund an expanded Cedarburg Fire Department.
Joint Fire/EMS Committee
The Town and City created a joint Fire & EMS Committee as part of the 10-year shared services agreement. The duty of this Committee is to serve as an advisory board on budgetary matters related to the annual Cedarburg Fire Department Budget. The Committee is made up of six (6) members in total. Two members of the Town of Cedarburg Board of Supervisors, two members of the City of Cedarburg Common Council, and two resident members - one resident from the City of Cedarburg and one resident from the Town of Cedarburg make up the Committee.
Ozaukee County Fire & EMS Service
Sharing Feasibility Analysis Released 2021
Ozaukee County Communities Complete Phase I Feasibility Analysis of Fire & EMS Service Sharing Opportunities
Following an eight-month study of potential service-sharing opportunities across nine (9) Paid-On-Call (POC) municipal fire departments throughout Ozaukee County, the Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF) released a report in March 2021 outlining the results of its independent analysis. The report, entitled First Response: Addressing Fire & Emergency Medical Service Challenges in Ozaukee County, represents a Phase I Feasibility Analysis on behalf of the ten separate jurisdictions that initiated the review. These participating communities included the Cities of Cedarburg, Mequon and Port Washington, the Towns of Belgium and Cedarburg, the Villages of Fredonia, Grafton, Saukville and Thiensville and unincorporated area of Waubeka.
Within this Phase I analysis, the Wisconsin Policy Forum does not recommend a specific consolidation approach and implementation plan. Rather, the report develops a range of potential options and provides sufficient fiscal and programmatic analysis to allow policy-makers the ability to determine if any of the identified options should be considered for more detailed analysis, refinement and potential implementation.
After reviewing and analyzing operating budgets, capital budgets, service call histories and personnel related data of the participating departments, the Forum found that:
- Calls for services across all nine departments have risen nearly 24% between 2015-2019.
- EMS response times do not meet statewide and national averages and/or standards. Between turnout and travel time, average response times range from 7 - 14.5 minutes.
- Departments are having difficulty recruiting and retaining part-time or volunteer staff. Even the better-staffed Ozaukee County departments do not have sufficient resources to manage a structure fire, and any major incident generally requires a call for mutual aid.
To address these issues, the WPF identified three tiers of increasingly comprehensive options:
Tier 1: Departments increase collaboration while maintaining independence. This could mean strategically stationing and jointly paying for full-time paramedic interceptors across the county, or an effort to boost the number of full-time shifts at strategic station locations when call volumes are high or staffing levels are low.
Tier 2: Partially consolidate the departments while moving toward a full-time staffing model. A hypothetical example is provided that illustrates a merger between Grafton and Saukville. Another scenario shows the existing departments merging into two departments: one in the northern part of the county and another in the southern portion.
Tier 3: Modeling of a single, consolidated fire department to serve all of Ozaukee County. One scenario approximates the staffing model used by the North Shore Fire Department (high-cost), while a second scenario shows a lower-priced approach that may more appropriately reflect Ozaukee County’s call volumes and density.
In asking the Forum to analyze these options, Ozaukee County leaders are not alone. Even before the pandemic, efforts to explore enhanced service sharing and cooperation among regional fire and EMS providers have become more common throughout Wisconsin and across the nation.
The report, which is available at www.wispolicyforum.org, provides hypothetical options as a starting point for discussion amongst the participating entities, and over the next month, WPF staff will present their findings to each community’s respective governing body. From there, each municipality will determine if any of the options should be further discussed or analyzed. The WPF will be presenting to a joint Town and City of Cedarburg meeting on April 7th at Cedarburg Town Hall at 6pm.
The Town also utilizes one appointed Town Constable, Ryan Fitting, (below) to address Town Code compliance issues (i.e. public nuisances, illegal burning, dog-at-large) for residents. If you have any questions about the Town Constable or if you would like to report a code compliance concern, please contact Town Hall at (262) 377-4509. All other law enforcement is handled by the Ozaukee County Sheriff's Department, which can be reached at (262) 377-7172 for non-emergencies or 911 for emergencies.